Fightin' Fanboys

Fightin' Fanboys: Bully Ray of Impact Wrestling

The reigning World Champion and leader of Aces and Eights opens up on his evolution, recruiting The Hulk and more!

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Bully Ray (image courtesy of Impact Wrestling)

Photos courtesy of Impact Wrestling

By Ben Morse

Even the most renowned tough guys of the Marvel Universe, from Wolverine to The Hulk, would face a stern challenge in the form of the reigning World Champion of Impact Wrestling, Bully Ray.

A celebrated tag team wrestler for years, Bully recently broke out as a singles competitor and rode a wave of success all the way to the top. For a time, it seemed he would be the hero of Impact Wrestling, finding love with the beautiful Brooke Hogan—daughter of the legendary Hulk Hogan—and leading the battle against the dastardly Aces and Eights gang that had attacked the promotion. However, Bully shocked the world, revealing himself as the sinister leader of Aces and Eights, betraying his allies and defeating Jeff Hardy for the World title in the process.

Bully Ray (image courtesy of Impact Wrestling)

This weekend, on June 2 in Boston, Bully Ray puts his World championship on the line against the Icon of Impact Wrestling, Sting. Before that, though, he spoke to us about the evolution of his career, upcoming challenges, how the Aces and Eights would do in the Marvel Universe, plus much more.

Marvel.com: A couple of years back you ended your tag team with Devon, Team 3-D. You guys were going strong for so many years, winning all the titles. You’ve been a singles wrestler full time for about three years now?

Bully Ray: I think we’re coming up on three years, yeah.

Marvel.com: When you guys did the split initially, you had to envision that it would be successful otherwise you wouldn’t have done it. But did you think you’d reach the point of being World Champion? Was that the goal from the start?

Bully Ray (image courtesy of Impact Wrestling)

Bully Ray: We never really put any specific goals on the split. In the world of professional wrestling and entertainment, I’ve always just gone out there with the mindset of putting on the best possible show that I can no matter what scenario I’m in. Whether that’s the opening match or whether that’s being the World Heavyweight Champion and headlining a pay-per-view like Slammiversary.

No specific goal in mind, I just knew at that time, after almost 15 years and doing every possible thing as a tag team and conquering the entire world of tag team wrestling, it was time for a change.

Marvel.com: Now you are World Champion. Once you realized this was a possibility, how did that feel, and now that you’ve hit it, what’s it like to be in that position?

Bully Ray (image courtesy of Impact Wrestling)

Bully Ray: It feels really good. People are taken back by my answers sometimes when I say I’m not shocked. I know that comes across a bit egotistical but one, humble doesn’t sell tickets, and two, I’m not trying to sound egotistical when I say that but I’ve always expected success from myself. Me and Devon have been successful together since day one. No matter where we were, no matter who we wrestled for, what promotion, all over the world, we were always successful. I’ve always expected the best for myself, so becoming the World Heavyweight Champion is definitely a nice achievement in my career.

Marvel.com: It’s well deserved. For someone who is a “bad guy,” there are a lot of people that are happy to see you have the belt. I think it’s a respect thing and recognition of the work you’ve been doing over the last couple of years.

Bully Ray (image courtesy of Impact Wrestling)

Bully Ray: I appreciate that. True wrestling fans always recognize hard work. I remember back in the day, Arn Anderson was one of the most hated guys ever. And all of a sudden, fans started cheering for Arn Anderson out of nowhere. It’s because the fans realized that Arn Anderson comes out every week, he busts his ass, he gives us great matches, great promos, and we appreciate this guy. I think that’s what happened with me. The people have seen all of the years of just busting our asses and they appreciate it. And listen, to the people who love me, I really appreciate that and to the people who hate me, I appreciate it even more.

Marvel.com: The way that you’ve physically re-invented yourself the last couple of years has been incredible. It’s something to be proud of.

Bully Ray: Well, when you do a reinvention, you have to do something drastic. You have to make the people forget about what the tag team was. There [are] not a lot of people who can come out of a tag team, break off on their own and have people appreciate them for their singles career. It’s a very hard situation to break out of and I knew I had the quote-unquote “character reinvention” but Bully Ray isn’t really a character. I don’t play a character on TV. What you see is what you get. I knew from a physical point of view that I would have to be in better shape. I knew having to wrestle by myself would require even more cardiovascular conditioning. I just wanted to look different. And plus, I get a lot of chicks!

Bully Ray (image courtesy of Impact Wrestling)

Marvel.com: Shifting gears to Slammiversary, coming up on June 2 in Boston. Slammiversary has been TNA’s celebration of when they got started and the history of that company but I have to think for you, this is the celebration of the best year of your career, as far as singles. How do you plan on using the show to commemorate the year that you’ve had and your reign as World Champion to date?

Bully Ray: Let’s go back to Lockdown for a second. Lockdown” was me and Jeff Hardy in a cage [and] that was TNA’s most successful pay-per-view to date as far as the amount of people who saw it. I take great pride in the fact that I was one half of the main event of TNA’s successful pay-per-view. At Slammiversary, we’re looking to top that [with] me and Sting in the main event. It’s Bully Ray, the guy who has turned TNA upside down and took all the change out of its pockets, versus an icon like Sting, who has all the glory and championships to prove it. I believe this is going to be a hell of a main event. I believe I’m going to beat the paint out of Sting, ala Big Van Vader back in the day. I believe that I’m going to bring more aggression out of him than anybody else. I also believe that there’s going to be a ton of energy in Boston, obviously, because of the real life situation that just happened. They want to be entertained. Plus, Boston wrestling fans are always rabid, always crazy. And oh, by the way, the World Heavyweight Champion just happens to be from New York City. How do you think the people in Boston are going to react to that?

Bully Ray (image courtesy of Impact Wrestling)

I think Slammiversary is going to be huge, there’s going to be tons of electricity going through that building, and I’m hoping we can top what we did at Lockdown.

Marvel.com: Looking past Slammiversary and Sting, who’s next in your periphery or is it just the type of thing where whoever they throw at you, you’ll take them on?

Bully Ray: It’s pretty cliché when the World Champion says he’ll wrestle anyone they put in front of him but yeah, it is the answer. I will wrestle anybody and prove that I can be in there with any wrestler in the world. If you’re asking my dream, my fantasy in that situation? I want to main event Bound for Glory against Hulk Hogan.

Hulk does not deserve a title shot because he hasn’t wrestled. But if you’re asking me who I want to beat the crap out of on TV on the biggest stage, it’s Hulk Hogan. Bully Ray. Hulk Hogan. Can the old man beat me for the belt? I say he can’t.

Bully Ray (image courtesy of Impact Wrestling)

Marvel.com: This is an interview with Marvel and we are a company that puts out movies like “The Avengers” and comics like X-Men. We have a lot of teams. You are the leader of an incredible group yourself, the Aces and Eights.  You drop the Aces and Eights into the Marvel Universe where we have all these super teams. How do you see them existing? Do you become a rival group? Do you oppose the good guys? What happens?

Bully Ray: Here’s what I’m going to do to. I’m going to turn the tables on you. Knowing what you know about super heroes, what force do you think would be a great match-up against the Aces and Eights?

The New Fantastic Four

Marvel.com: Well, there was a time when we had Wolverine, Spider-Man, The Hulk, and Ghost Rider teamed up briefly. They were known as the New Fantastic Four, replacing the classic Fantastic Four. That would be an interesting fracas right there. You have the pure power of the Hulk, the street fighting of Wolverine, and Ghost Rider has the bikes. I’d love to see them go up against you guys.

Bully Ray: I’m sure that would be a good fight.

The Hulk

Marvel.com: Who from the Marvel Universe would fit in as a member of the Aces and Eights?

Bully Ray: Probably Hulk.

Marvel.com: Why is that?

Bully Ray: Because he’s just a beast. He’s a big, bad, intimidating guy. He’s a monster. With Hulk, it’s pretty cut and dry. He just beats the crap out of everybody; he just gets really pissed off and beats the crap out of everybody. So basically, I could be The Hulk. I could be the Incredible Hulk for that matter.

Bully Ray (image courtesy of Impact Wrestling)

Marvel.com: And then you guys could have your own Hulk. TNA’s got Hulk Hogan, and you’ve got the bigger Hulk.

Bully Ray: Absolutely. I guess he would be the best choice.

Marvel.com: He would have to get a pretty big cut though.

Bully Ray: It would be a really big cut.

Visit the official web site of Impact Wrestling for more information on Slammiversary—coming June 2—and follow Bully Ray on Twitter.

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